One of the main reasons for the single-use rockets that will dominate the Artemis Project is the set of core issues that plagued the space shuttle program. While shuttles provided a multi-use platform to haul payloads and crews up to space, the aircrafts themselves suffered from a general lack of safety, according to Newsweek. After the Challenger explosion in 1986, there was a real concern with the shuttles’ launch faculties, and the 2003 burnout of the Columbia upon atmospheric reentry really put the nail in the coffin. Shuttle launches were used sparingly from then until the program was eventually shut down in 2011.

In addition to the safety issues on both the launch sequence and reentry procedures, the cost of these reusable rockets actually far exceeded expectations (via Newsweek), making the shuttle blueprint something that remained wanting in many more ways than one.

Likewise, the shuttles that NASA used during the program’s run were woefully underutilized relative to their flight ratings, ratcheting up the overall relative expenditure of this mission sequence in the end result. Astronomy notes that shuttles were designed for quick turnarounds, facilitating expansive exploration of low-Earth orbit. However, the turnaround times for concurrent launches was far slower than anticipated, forcing the NASA team to shelve dreams of cosmic grandeur that the shuttle program once signaled.

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